Guidance required…

I am managing to keep up so far – only January I know – but not bad for me. I’ve sent off two copies of three chapters this week, one for a ‘free read’ by a panel of professionals (writers and publishers) – the idea being that they select a certain number of manuscripts received and give feed back on those chosen. The other is to be selected by a panel of organisers of a local writing conference to be read and evaluated by an agent – a one to one in fact. Fingers crossed. I’ve allowed enough of my friends and family to read it now, so it’s time for the real deal.  I did send chapters to agents last year, with no positive response. Those chapters have since been cut or re-written. That is my mission for this year, to grab the attention of an agent. Some people have suggested self publishing but I want to scrape a living at this and without an agent helping me to pick my way through, I’m not sure that would ever happen. I am constantly amazed at the sheer amount of published work out there, some of it not to my taste, but published and selling, so it must be to someone’s taste. How can I hope to get my offering out there without expert help? So if any of you happen to be writer’s agents do let me know! Are any of you self published? Published? Do you think self publishing is ‘vanity’ publishing or do you think it has a place in the world of books?


4 comments so far

  1. Dan Poynter on

    Finding the Right Agent

    Your mission is not to find an agent, it is to find the right agent. Do you want an advocate or a gatekeeper?

    Some literary agents have a passion and a track record for certain kinds of books: cooking, travel, children’s, business, parenting and so on. To find the right agent for your manuscript, simply match the Work to the agent.

    Look on that shelf in the bookstore where your book will be. Check the Acknowledgement pages of similar books; some authors mention their agent. Locate and call authors of works similar to yours. Ask who their agent is.

    Agent Patti Breitman, (John Gray, Men are from Mars and Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff), is a confirmed and renowned vegetarian. When she was new to the business, she attended many vegetarian conferences and let people know she was looking for manuscripts. After she sold a few, the word spread in vegetarian circles.
    Now, Patti represents the founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Ingrid Newkirk (You Can Save The Animals); the founder of Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, Neal Barnard, M.D. (Foods That Fight Pain and Food for Life), the 4th generation cattle rancher turned vegetarian who got Oprah sued, Howard Lyman (Mad Cowboy) and several others.

    Today, Patti receives several queries and proposals for vegetarian books. As she is not taking on many new clients, Patti must sometimes decline the chance to work with even the best vegetarian authors. Then she will suggest other agents and encourage the writers to persevere, as she shares their passion.

    “It’s harder for a new writer to get an agent than a publisher.” —Roger Straus, president, Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

    At writers’ conferences, try this non-threatening way of approaching agents: Do not ask an agent to read your manuscript. Place them in a more objective position by saying, “You are an agent and know most of the other agents. I realize agents have a track record in certain types of work. Which agents would you recommend for this manuscript?” You will be astonished at the positive reaction you get.

    Good agents specialize. Successful authors know where to look for agents.

    Dan Poynter does not want you to die with a book still inside you. You have the ingredients and he has your recipe. Dan has written more than 100 books since 1969 including Writing Nonfiction and The Self-Publishing Manual. For more help on book writing, see


  2. Juliet on

    Hi Anne – I’ve a fair bit of experience in helping self-publishers into print and there are lots of issues to consider. There are also an awful lot of people out there who are making a killing out of ‘helping’ would-be self-publishers by making it all seem more complicated than it actually is. Getting into print is the easy bit. Marketing is the hard bit because without marketing you will make no sales. And even traditional publishers often leave their authors in the lurch when it comes to marketing. Email me if you would like to run through some of the issues, and I can put you in touch with some of my contacts.

  3. Harriet on

    I do sympathise and I agree that finding an agent, and the right agent, can be very hard. Excellent advice in the other comments and I can’t add much here. Do you know a publication called Mslexia? They often have very helpful articles about such things. I agree about self-publication — it is very easy to get a book into print and to get it looking totally professional so no-one would ever know the difference. But it is the marketing that will be a pain unless you are incredibly energetic and dedicated. However there are things to be said for it, if you are prepared to throw yourself in!

  4. Juliet on

    And see re the self/vanity publishing debate.

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